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Ford Motor Co. is preparing to notify up to 740,000 owners of Ford Explorer and Mercury Mountaineer sport utility vehicles about a possible transmission problem, a company spokeswoman said Monday. The problem affects vehicles from the 2004 model year, spokeswoman Kristen Kinley said.

Kinley said customers with the faulty transmission will notice a delayed or noisy engagement when they shift from park to reverse. The affected vehicles have the wrong transmission fluid.

Ford will pay for repairs, although most of the vehicles still are under warranty. Ford will send a letter to owners once it has a service plan in place, Kinley said.

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